Gov. Mark Gordon has appointed Uinta County GOP Committeeman Karl Allred interim secretary of state. 

Allred, who’s never before served in elected office or worked in state government, will be the second-highest-ranking government official in Wyoming until January, when he’ll pass the torch to the newly elected secretary of state. He is filling a vacancy left by Ed Buchanan, who resigned on Sept. 17 to take the bench in Wyoming’s Eighth Judicial District. 

“This is an interim job,” Allred told WyoFile. “It’s not a job that I’m out there to make waves with.”

The gas plant foreman and Evanston resident has two main objectives for his time in office, he said: getting through the general election with adherence to rules and statutes, and facilitating a smooth transition to the next secretary of state. That person is very likely to be Rep. Chuck Gray (R-Casper), who, having secured the Republican nomination in August, faces no challenger on the ballot in the general election. 

Allred said he expects to be sworn in on Monday. 

Background

In August, Allred lost the Republican primary for House District 19 by 326 votes. He also lost previous races for the state House in 2020, 2018 and 2010, as well as a run for state Senate in 2014. 

Aside from his campaign experience, Allred’s time in Wyoming’s public eye has mostly resulted from legal challenges. In 2016, for example, Allred and then Rep. Gerald Gay (R-Casper) unsuccessfully sued then Gov. Matt Mead and legislative leaders over the Capitol building renovation. 

In 2018, when the Wyoming GOP hosted its convention in Laramie, Allred was one of several party members who defied a University of Wyoming policy by carrying a gun on campus. While another man from Uinta County, Lyle Williams, was cited by UWPD, Allred was not. 

Over the years he’s also made regular appearances before legislative committees, sometimes armed when meetings were held in non-governmental buildings. The State Building Commission Rules prohibit “dangerous weapons” from being brought into government offices, which means Allred will not be able to carry in his new office in the Capitol building. 

“That’s a policy that I think is wrong, but it is a policy,” Allred said, adding that he would abide by it.

Status quo

The governor selected Allred from a group of three nominees put forth by the Wyoming Republican Party’s central committee, as was required by state statute. Marti Halverson, a former lawmaker, and Bryan Miller, chairman of the Sheridan County Republican Party, were the other two nominees. 

Allred’s declared intent to preserve the status quo contrasted with Halverson, who criticized the Election Division of the secretary of state’s office in her application and promised to make several changes ahead of the general election. 

By contrast, Allred said he will “rely greatly on the experience and the qualified people we have there,” including Elections Division Director Kai Schon and Deputy Secretary of State Karen Wheeler. 

Kai Schon (right), director of the secretary of state’s election division, presents to the Wyoming State Canvassing Board on Aug. 24, 2022. (Twitter/Gov. Mark Gordon’s page)

Plans aside, Allred’s authority to substantively change elections will likely be limited — as will be true for the incoming secretary in January. The power to make new laws or change existing election laws, for example, lies within the Legislature, per Article 3, section 1 of the Wyoming Constitution. And while the state’s election code authorizes the secretary of state to make written directives to county clerks, “it’s strictly tied really to emergencies,” Schon said. 

“The secretary of state shall have the authority to issue directives to county election officers necessary to ensure the proper conduct of elections, including voter registration and elector participation when there is a declared natural disaster or other impending or declared emergency which interferes with an election,” according to Title 22, Chapter two, section 121 of the Wyoming Election Code

Buchanan was given that authority during the COVID-19 pandemic when a national emergency was declared.

The secretary is also authorized to adopt rules and regulations when necessary to comply with either the Help America Vote Act of 2002 or the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act of 2009. 

The Wyoming Republican Party has come out against ballot drop boxes and Gray has promised to abolish them. 

However, “there is nothing in [the election code] that would allow a directive specific to drop boxes,” Schon said. 

In addition to his duties as the state’s chief election officer, Allred will also serve on various panels and commissions, including the State Loan and Investment Board, which manages revenue generated from state lands and administers grant and loan programs to cities, towns and counties. The SLIB is set to meet in December. 

Concerns

The Wyoming Republican Party congratulated Allred on its website Thursday night. But skepticism is already bubbling about Allred’s impartiality in his new role overseeing the state’s elections. 

During the GOP’s state central committee meeting on Sept. 17 in Riverton, Allred called on his party to financially back Republican Jim McCollum in his race for House District 16 against Rep. Mike Yin (D-Jackson). The state party can only afford to support so many candidates due to financial problems, so they’re only backing Republicans in what they consider “winnable” races. 

“If any of you have met him or dealt with him in any committee meetings, the guy is a flippin’ idiot,” Allred said of Yin. “And we need to get rid of him.”

Yin tweeted his concerns Thursday night. 

“Karl Allred is now going to be our unelected Secretary of State and will be in charge of my election results,” Yin said. 

“None of the choices given to the Governor by the Wyoming Republican Party were reasonable options when there were former county clerks that applied for the appointment,” Yin said in an email. “Two out of five our top five current statewide positions have now been chosen by partisans and not the public.”

The other official Yin referred to is Superintendent of Public Instruction Brian Schroeder, whom Gordon appointed in January following the resignation of Jillian Balow.

The Legislature’s Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee is currently drafting a bill to make changes to how the state fills certain vacancies. 

Maggie Mullen

Maggie Mullen reports on state government and politics. Before joining WyoFile in 2022, she spent five years at Wyoming Public Radio.

Join the Conversation

16 Comments

Want to join the discussion? Fantastic, here are the ground rules: * Provide your full name — no pseudonyms. WyoFile stands behind everything we publish and expects commenters to do the same. * No personal attacks, profanity, discriminatory language or threats. Keep it clean, civil and on topic. *WyoFile does not fact check every comment but, when noticed, submissions containing clear misinformation, demonstrably false statements of fact or links to sites trafficking in such will not be posted. *Individual commenters are limited to three comments per story, including replies.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. It seems that pea shooters and toad stickers as fashion accessories are considered haute couture in certain circles these days. Karl has a pulse, and adequate circulation to the posterior region is really all that is required to keep a chair seat warmed above room temperature until January……..

  2. His track record in elections in Uinta County should speak volumes! I have never voted for an Allred and never will. Unfortunately he may have been the least bad choice. The GOP obviously doesn’t appreciate qualification or quality when it comes to choosing nominees, rather it’s the cronies that get the nod.

  3. Just what the state needs: a pistol-packin’ secretary of state. You people are amazingly backward and dull-watted!

  4. Why did Allred pack a pistol to a Republican Party meeting?

    Did they have a Show-and-Tell session?

  5. Looks like Gorduhn is doing chuckie gray a solid.

    He appoints someone with less experience and even more questionable ethics and honesty than gray. Gorduhn just goes to show that the wyoming gullible old party is always capable of lowering the bar in who they support.

  6. The bar couldn’t get any lower. Republicans have better people with experience, those that adhere to law and have brains instead of a bag of rocks. Just like so many insecure men who feel the need to wear a cowboy hat to appear tough and carry a gun to intimidate, he and so many like him are truly pathetic. If he wants to look tough, how about a gym membership with a serious commitment.

  7. Turning over the secretary of state to Allred is like giving a wolf the job of taking over the chicken coup. He is a flaming red-neck republican. He has no idea what he is doing.

  8. Good story. These quotes from our new Secretary of State should help Wyoming voters feel good/better about the coming General Election.

    “This is an interim job,” Allred told WyoFile. “It’s not a job that I’m out there to make waves with.”

    Allred said he will “rely greatly on the experience and the qualified people we have there,” including Elections Division Director Kai Schon and Deputy Secretary of State Karen Wheeler.

  9. Allred may be fine for an interim period that’s so short. However, why him when there were former county clerks that applied for the interim position? (re: experience) Again Allred might prove to be just fine, but his selection will (and should) raise eyebrows.

    1. Because that is who the Governor was given by the GOP – they didn’t give him anyone with experience to choose from. Unfortunately the Governor is limited to the 3 choices the Wyoming Republican Party give him. I’m sure they didn’t want anyone who would do a better job than Gray (easy to do) and show him up before he takes office.